Mastercard To Roll Out Crypto-funded Payment Cards Across Asia Pacific

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Three leading cryptocurrency service providers in Asia Pacific will partner global payments company Mastercard to roll out crypto-funded Mastercard payment cards across the Asia Pacific region. Mastercard is partnering with Amber Group and Bitkub in Thailand, and CoinJar in Australia to provide this service.

Following the partnership, consumers and businesses in the Asia Pacific region will be able to apply for crypto-linked Mastercard credit, debit or pre-paid cards that will enable them to instantly convert their cryptocurrencies into traditional fiat currency, which can be spent everywhere Mastercard is accepted around the world, both online and offline.

Consumers and businesses will be able to spend cryptocurrency using physical or digital Mastercard payment cards. Though merchants already accept payments in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, they were not through such cards that instantly convert cryptos into traditional fiat currency while making the card payment.

Mastercard noted that these companies are the first APAC-based cryptocurrency platforms to join Mastercard's global Crypto Card Program, which was designed to make it simpler and faster for crypto firms to bring secure, compliant payment cards to market.

This was necessitated as consumers were increasingly seeking to fund everyday transactions securely and efficiently with digital currencies. However, currency will always enter Mastercard's network as traditional fiat currency.

This announcement comes at a time when interest in cryptocurrencies is at an all-time high across the Asia Pacific region, particularly in Thailand as one of the most crypto-oriented markets in Asia Pacific.

According to the latest Mastercard New Payments Index, 45 percent of those surveyed in APAC say they are likely to consider using cryptocurrency in the next year. This was a huge jump from the 12 percent that already used it last year, and also above the global average of 40 percent.

Mastercard has already been very active in the digital currency market. It has partnered Wirex, BitPay and bitcoin Exchange LVL last year to create co-branded crypto cards that allow people to transact using their cryptocurrencies.

However, cryptocurrencies still did not move through Mastercard's network in all these processes. Its crypto partners convert the digital assets on their end to traditional currencies and then transmit them through to the Mastercard network.

Later in February this year, Mastercard began supporting a bunch of select cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, directly on its network as these digital assets were becoming a more important part of the payments world.

Mastercard also rolled out its proprietary virtual testing environment for central banks to evaluate Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) use cases is September 2020 to enable the simulation of issuance, distribution and exchange of CBDCs between banks, financial service providers and consumers.

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